US embassy cable - 86ABUDHABI5867

ENGINEER COMMENTS ON LIFE IN RASHT, AND THE - LIKELY LEADERS OF A POST-KHOMEINI IRAN

Identifier: 86ABUDHABI5867
Wikileaks: View 86ABUDHABI5867 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abu Dhabi
Created: 1986-12-09 08:09:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PINR PGOV PREL IR TC
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 090809Z DEC 86
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4900
INFO AMEMBASSY ATHENS
AMEMBASSY ANKARA
AMEMBASSY BERN
AMEMBASSY BONN
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY ROME
AMEMBASSY VIENNA
AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY DOHA
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
AMEMBASSY MADRID
AMEMBASSY MANAMA
AMEMBASSY MUSCAT
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY NICOSIA
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS
AMEMBASSY EMBBERLIN
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
USMISSION USBERLIN
AMCONSUL FRANKFURT
AMCONSUL HAMBURG
AMCONSUL IZMIR
AMCONSUL MUNICH
AMCONSUL STUTTGART
AMCONSUL ZURICH
AMCONSUL DHAHRAN
AMCONSUL KARACHI
AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ABU DHABI 05867 
 
FROM AMCONSUL DUBAI 
 
E. O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PINR, PGOV, PREL, IR, TC 
SUBJECT:  ENGINEER COMMENTS ON LIFE IN RASHT, AND THE 
-         LIKELY LEADERS OF A POST-KHOMEINI IRAN 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  AN IRANIAN ENGINEER CLAIMED THAT WHILE SOME 
INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES IN THE CITY OF RASHT HAVE BEEN 
FORCED TO SEND EMPLOYEES TO THE WAR, THERE HAS BEEN NO 
SHORTAGE OF VOLUNTEERS.  SINCE THE FIRMS WERE OPERATING AT 
LESS THAN FULL CAPACITY, THEIR ABSENCE AFFECTED OUTPUT ONLY 
MARGINALLY.  INDUSTRIAL CHIEFS IN THE REGION WERE ESCORTED 
LAST SPRING THROUGH THE FAO PENINSULA.  WEST GERMANY IS 
TRAINING MANY OF THESE ENGINEERS IN A "DIVIDEND-FOR-TRAIN- 
ING" EXCHANGE PROGRAM.  KHOMEINI IS LIKELY TO BE SUCCEEDED 
BY A "GROUP OF FIVE" THAT INCLUDES MONTAZERI, RAFSANJANI, 
KHAMENEI, AHMAD KHOMEINI, AND MESHKINI.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  ON NOVEMBER 22, CONOFF DUBAI SPOKE WITH A U. S.- 
TRAINED IRANIAN ENGINEER RESPONSIBLE FOR WATER SYSTEMS IN 
A FACTORY IN BANDAR ANZALI, NEAR RASHT.  IRANIAN'S OBSER- 
VATIONS ARE SUMMARIZED AS FOLLOWS: 
 
4.  INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY AND WAR RECRUITMENT:  OF THE THREE 
MAJOR INDUSTRIES IN RASHT, THE TEXTILE AND PAPER MILLS ARE 
RUNNING AT ONLY ONE-HALF CAPACITY, WHILE THE ELECTRIC POWER 
PLANT CONTINUES AT FULL CAPACITY.  TEN PER CENT OF THE TEX- 
TILE AND PAPER EMPLOYEES HAVE HAD TO SERVE AT THE WAR 
FRONT, BUT THE POWER PLANT EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN EXEMPTED. 
SOURCE CLAIMED THAT NO FORCE HAD TO BE USED TO COERCE EM- 
PLOYEES TO JOIN THE MILITARY.  "BRAIN-WASHING" HAS BEEN SO 
EFFECTIVE THAT "IN RASHT THERE IS NEVER A SHORTAGE OF 
BASIJ."  VOLUNTEERS ARE GIVEN 45 DAYS OF TRAINING IN RASHT, 
AND THEN ARE SENT FOR TWO TO FOUR WEEKS FURTHER TRAINING 
NEAR TEHRAN.  HE SAID MANY IRANIANS BELIEVE THAT AN END TO 
THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR WOULD NOT NECESSARILY MEAN AN END TO CON- 
FRONTATION.  THEY SEE THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR INCAPABLE OF 
ABSORBING IRANIAN SOLDIERS AND REASON THAT NEW CONFRONTA- 
TIONS, PERHAPS WITH PAKISTAN, WOULD BE USED TO KEEP THE 
SOLDIERS "OCCUPIED." 
 
5.  INDUSTRIAL HEADS VISIT FAO:  IN APRIL, 1986, THE GOI 
ORGANIZED A TWO-WEEK TRIP TO THE FAO WAR FRONT FOR RASHT 
INDUSTRIAL LEADERS.  THE TRIP HAD TWO OBJECTIVES:  FIRST, 
TO FAMILIARIZE INDUSTRIAL HEADS WITH THE TYPES OF EQUIPMENT 
BEING USED SO THAT THEIR FACTORIES COULD FABRICATE SPARE 
PARTS.  SAMPLE EQUIPMENT AND PARTS WERE COLLECTED, BUT AT- 
TEMPTS TO REPRODUCE THEM IN RASHT AND BANDAR ANZALI FAILED. 
MOST SPARE PARTS, HE SAID, PARTICULARLY THOSE FOR HIGH 
PRESSURE COMPRESSORS, ARE BEING FABRICATED FROM AMERICAN 
AND BRITISH DESIGNS IN TURKEY, AND ARE BEING TRUCKED INTO 
IRAN.  A SECOND OBJECTIVE WAS TO HAVE INDUSTRIAL LEADERS 
WITNESS THE DETERMINATION OF THE MILITARY, AND CONVEY 
FAVORABLE IMPRESSIONS TO THEIR NEIGHBORS AND EMPLOYEES IN 
RASHT SO THAT THE FLOW OF BASIJ VOLUNTEERS WOULD CONTINUE 
UNIMPEDED. 
 
6.  EXCHANGING EMPLOYEE TRAINING FOR DIVIDENDS:  SOURCE 
CLAIMED THAT THE GOI OWNS 25 PER CENT OF THE GERMAN COR- 
PORATE GIANT KRUPP.  INSTEAD OF PAYING DIVIDENDS TO THE 
GOI, THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT HAS WORKED OUT A SCHEME WHEREBY 
IRANIAN ENGINEERS ARE SENT FOR INDUSTRIAL TRAINING IN 
GERMANY INSTEAD.  SOURCE SAID THAT IN THE SUMMER OF 1985, 
HE HAD RECEIVED A TWO-WEEK TRAINING COURSE IN WEST GERMANY 
IN ASSORTED METHODS OF WASTE WATER TREATMENT. 
 
7.  HOW MANY AYATOLLAHS DOES IT TAKE TO REPLACE KHOMEINI?: 
THIS SOURCE AND OTHER IRANIAN CONTACTS IN DUBAI BELIEVE 
THAT MUCH OF AYATOLLAH MONTAZERI'S RECENT DIFFICULTIES, IN- 
CLUDING THE ARREST OF MEHDI HASHEMI, ARE TRACEABLE TO AN 
UNWILLINGNESS AMONG OTHER LEADERS TO ACCEPT MONTAZERI AS 
THE SOLE LEADER OF THE POST-KHOMEINI ERA.  THE IRANIAN 
CONSTITUTION ALLOWS FOR A THREE-TO-FIVE-PERSON GROUP TO 
LEAD THE NATION, AND THE LIKELY FIVE WHO WOULD SHARE THE 
LEADERSHIP AFTER KHOMEINI'S DEATH APPEAR TO BE:  (A) 
AYATOLLAH MONTAZERI--HAVING BEEN CHOSEN BY KHOMEINI, HE IS 
NOT LIKELY TO BE EXCLUDED.  HE IS SEEN BY MOST IRANIANS AS 
A "COMPASSIONATE" LEADER, IN CONTRAST TO THE "DICTATORIAL" 
KHOMEINI, DESPITE HIS EVIDENT LACK OF SOPHISTICATION OR 
COHERENT WORLD VIEW. 
 
(B)  HOJJAT-OL-ESLAM RAFSANJANI--AS SPEAKER OF THE PARLIA- 
MENT, HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO SHAPE EVENTS TO HIS OWN ADVANT- 
AGE.  IRANIANS CONTINUE TO NOTE THAT IT IS "NO COINCID- 
ENCE" THAT RAFSANJANI WAS ABSENT BOTH TIMES WHEN BOMBS 
KILLED MANY OF HIS LIKELY RIVALS.  MANY IRANIANS BELIEVE 
THAT HE WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO ASSURE HIS PLACE IN THE 
"GROUP OF FIVE" AND THAT, IF HE HAS TO SHARE POWER, IT WILL 
ONLY BE BECAUSE OF HIS WEAKER RELIGIOUS CREDENTIALS (HE IS 
NOT AN AYATOLLAH). 
 
(C)  PRESIDENT ALI HOSEINI KHAMENEI--LIKE RAFSANJANI, 
KHAMENEI HAS BEEN ABLE TO SOLIDIFY HIS ACCESS TO THE 
ELITES FROM HIS POSITION AS PRESIDENT.  WHEN RAFSANJANI 
WANTED TO LIMIT THE POWER OF THE COMITEHS TO MAKE DECI- 
SIONS WITHOUT CONSULTING HIGHER LEVELS OF THE GOI, 
KHAMENEI SUPPORTED THE COMITEHS' INDEPENDENCE, WHOSE MEM- 
BERSHIP ARE NOT LIKELY TO FORGET HIS SUPPORT FOR THEM. 
 
(D)  AHMAD MUSAVI-KHOMEINI--AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI'S SON IS 
BELIEVED TO BE THE ONLY PERSON WITH UNLIMITED ACCESS TO 
THE IMAM.  EVERY PERSON WHO CALLS ON THE AYATOLLAH MUST 
FIRST BE "APPROVED" BY "GATEKEEPER" AHMAD BEFORE HE IS AL- 
LOWED TO SEE KHOMEINI.  WHILE AHMAD RARELY FIGURES IN 
IRANIAN HEADLINES, IT IS BELIEVED THAT SINCE HE KNOWS ALL 
THAT HAS TRANSPIRED BETWEEN THE IMAM AND HIS GUESTS, HE 
WILL BE ABLE TO USE THIS KNOWLEDGE TO ASSUME HIS PLACE IN 
THE "GROUP OF FIVE."  IN ADDITION, SOME IRANIANS IN THE 
MAJLIS HAVE REPORTEDLY VOICED THE CONCERN THAT "WE CAN 
NEVER ALLOW THE NAME 'KHOMEINI' TO FADE FROM OUR VIEW." 
ONE WAY OF ASSURING THIS IS TO KEEP AHMAD IN THE UPPER 
LEVELS OF THE GOI. 
 
(E)  AYATOLLAH ALI AKBAR MESHKINI--SPEAKER FOR THE "COUNCIL 
OF EXPERTS," HE RARELY MAKES NEWS.  HOWEVER, IRANIANS WE 
HAVE TALKED TO IN DUBAI BELIEVE THAT HE IS ORCHESTRATING 
MUCH OF THE CONTINUED ANTI-WEST, ANTI-AMERICAN RHETORIC. 
SINCE HE ALLEGEDLY HAD A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN HELPING TO 
CHOOSE MONTAZERI AS THE IMAM'S SUCCESSOR, THE DEBT MONTA- 
ZERI OWES HIM MAY WELL BE REPAID WITH A POSITION IN THE 
"GROUP OF FIVE." 
 
8.  COMMENT:  THESE OBSERVATIONS ON THE "GROUP OF FIVE" 
COME FROM IRANIANS WHOSE INFORMATION HAS PROVED TO BE RELI- 
ABLE IN THE PAST.  WHILE MONTAZERI, RAFSANJANI, AND KHA- 
MENEI ARE MOST OFTEN CITED IN ANY DISCUSSION OF POST- 
KHOMEINI LEADERS, THE NAMES OF AHMED KHOMEINI AND MESHKINI 
HAVE APPEARED OFTEN ENOUGH TO WARRANT THEIR INCLUSION. 
 
MACK 

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